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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6

III.—Paper from Grasses, Rushes and Allied Plants

III.—Paper from Grasses, Rushes and Allied Plants.

14. Scirpus maritimus: Lirme.—The Soltmarsh Clubrush. This plant being almost cosmopolitan, occurs frequently in more or less brackish waters of, at least extra-tropical, Australia. It seems like the following previously not yet tried, or at all events not yet extensively used for paper manufacture, for which it is singularly well adapted, being, like most rushes, so readily converted into pulp. The amount of bleaching material for all these rushes is trifling. It is sufficiently common here to deserve attention, though not so frequent as in Middle Europe. Apparently the paper is firm enough to stand the impressions of type.

15. Scirpus lacustris: Linne.—The Lake Clubrush. It grows in moist parts nearly all over the globe, and so it is here also frequent in some places. Being of gregarious occurrence, the plant is readily collected. The paper from it is remarkably good, and hence well adapted at least for printing and tissue paper, but probably also for writing.

16. Cyperus lucidus: R. Brown.—The Shining Gallingale, a rush-like plant, common in many parts of Australia, shown to be adapted both for printing, tissue, and writing paper. All these rush-like plants bleach with great facility.

17. Cyperus vaginatus: R. Brown.—The Sheated Gating ale, one of the most widely and most copiously distributed of the rush-like plants of all page 32 Australia. Its fibre is extraordinarily tough, and accordingly can be formed into a very tenacious paper, which, moreover, proves one of great excellence. The raw material is available by thousands of tons on periodically flooded river flats, swampy depressions, and other moist localities, where a continued harvest of the plant cannot possibly exhaust the soil.

18. Heleochavris sphacelata: E. Brown—The Stout Spikerush. Abounds in the swamps of South-east Australia and Tasmania. It yields a paper as good for printing as for writing and tissue.

19. Heleocharis acuta: R. Brown.—The Slender Spikerush. Common in moist ground over a vast extent of Australia. Closely allied to the Creeping Spikerush of Middle Europe and other parts of the globe, which, although so frequent, has seemingly never yet been converted into paper. The local experiments here show this and many other cyperaceous plants exquisitely adapted for good printing and tissue paper, and a by no means very inferior writing paper. Better appliances will necessarily improve on the quality of the paper.

20. Lepidosperma gladiatum: Labillardière.—The Sword-Rush of the coast. A plant everywhere to be found on the sandy shores, where it greatly tends to bind the shifting sand. It was, nine years ago, subjected by Mr. Tolmer, of Adelaide, to successful tests for paper-fabrication. The article produced from it is of strong texture, and inasmuch as the plant can be collected in enormous quantities on ground not arable, it should find its way deservedly into factories with the many other kinds of material now pointed out. All the species of Lepidosperma are of like utility, but not all are equally bulky, nor equally gregarious. It grinds largely into pulp, like many other rushes.

21. Juncus vaginaius: R.Brown.—The Sheated Rush. Very abundant in moist parts of the whole extra-tropical part of Australia. Resembling several Middle European common rushes, which, like ours, would be worth collecting as material for printing, tissue, and likely also fair writing paper. The pulp is of equability. Many other species could, in the same way, be used.

22. Xerotes longifolia: R. Brown.—The Toothed Dry-Rush. This plant is dispersed through south-east Australia and Tasmania, and can be employed both for printing and writing paper. It is, however, scarcely so readily collected as many of the other plants just referred to. It has the recom-mendation of great tenacity for it. Several allied species will yield similar material. The aborigines make baskets from the Dry-Rush.

23. Dichelachne crinita: J. Hooker.—The Horsetail-Grass, one of the toughest of all kinds. It is almost universally diffused over extra-tropical Australia, and occurs also in New Zealand. This grass yields a tenacious paper, especially fit to be used for a thin packing or wrapping paper. Whilst, under disadvantages, working with small quantities of the pulp, the operator found it not needful to separate fragments of the arista, glumæ, &c., which appear as an admixture; but as in this instance it was not the aim to procure an elegant paper, no such provisions which machinery provides were adopted to separate the interspersed particles. It is not unlikely to make fair printing and the less costly kinds of writing and tissue paper.

24. Stipa semibarbata: R. Brown.—A grass to be found almost every-where throughout South-east Australia and Tasmania. The paper from this grass is very substantial, though not so strong as that of the preceding kind. On these two grasses only experiments were made to demonstrate page 33 their adaptability for the purpose in view. There are several other stipæ and besides grasses of other genera, which may finally be introduced with these into factories.

25. Xanthorrhæa minor: R. Brown.—This stemless liliaceous plant, of the particular genus which produces the different grass-trees of Australia, extends on temporarily inundated flats with heathy subsoil almost uninterruptedly over very many square miles of country in the Western Port district, Gippsland, and other Victorian localities; there are occasionally lines of from thirty to fifty miles' extent hardly interrupted by any other vegetation. The broad rigid tufts approach each other to the exclusion or gradual suffocation of most other plants of the spot. The harsh foliage, under such circumstances locally available in unlimited quantities, is shown to be easily converted into an excellent printing and also good writing paper; the percentage of pulp is large. This experiment teaches us also, that the wiry leaves of the different grass-trees may all be collected for paper mills, because all have a similar tissue. Thus an ample new resource is opened, especially for West Australia, where various Xantliorrhæa abound, and are vernacularly passing by the puzzling 'appellation of "Blackboys."

26. Typha augustifolia, Linn.—The Bulrush or Reedmace, identical, as it seems, with the common narrow-leaved species of Britain and many other parts of the globe. The pulp of the weighty foliage is easily to be pressed into good printing, tissue, and an acceptable writing paper. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the plant has previously not received any attention in paper factories.

27. Phormium tenax: Forster.—The New Zealand Flax-Lily. Paper has been placed in the Exhibition from material grown in Victoria. . The readiness with which the large richly fibrous leaves can be turned into pulp for a very substantial paper, entitles the plant not alone to our consideration, but also the fact that it may be permanently established with the greatest ease in any swampy ground. At present the limited supply of the Phormium reared here is only sufficient to serve as tying material in gardens, vineyards, &c. The adaptation of the Phormium for paper-making is not a new one. Mr. Luke Natrads, as early as 1844, exported the New Zealand Flax prepared as raw material for paper, and, I may mention, in the form of square solid lumps, to lessen freight. The subject from that time to the present clay has been one of almost constant discussion, and it is to be hoped that a local mill will ere long utilise so excellent a material. The paper here obtained from Phormium is the strongest of all.

28. Confervaceous Algæ, with Oedogonium and other allied freshwater weeds, cohere into extensive teguments on the bottom of our shallow swamps, when during the summer heat the water evaporates. The paper obtained from these Algæ would serve well, on account of its strength, for packing. At certain times and in certain localities these water weeds can be collected in enormous quantity. The application for the purpose appears to be a new one, and was first suggested by Dr. Greeves.

29. Musa Banksii: Ferd. Mueller.—In the forest glens of north-east Australia. This plant yields a fair paper for almost all purposes, according to the methods employed in reducing the fibre of the leaves and stalks to pulp. It has, on this occasion, merely been chosen to illustrate that all bananas, and thus the Manilla rope plant, and, besides, numerous allied page 34 products of the vegetable world, might, in tropical countries, be utilised for the preparation of coarser paper. The Banksian banana here operated on was grown in Victoria. The bleaching process, however, is not an easy one. Banana leaves yield approximately 40 per cent, of fibre for pulp. The treatment to which these fibres were subjected has been the same as that by which the esparto—or sparta—grass (Lygeum Spartea) is reduced to pulp. They were immersed in a solution of caustic soda, obtained from quicklime and common carbonate of soda, varying in strength according to the requirement of the fibre, but always inexpensive. In operating on Victorian raw fibres, it may be of advantage to know that the Mediterranean esparto, which contains about 56 per cent, ligneous fibre, needs application of a caustic liquid, prepared from one-eighth of soda in proportion to the grass. The process of boiling is extended over six or eight hours, whereby oil, albumen, resin, gum, and starch are abstracted. As substitutes for rags, all the materials indicated here deserve preference over many of the articles elsewhere tried or employed. Thus ferns yield generally only from 20 to 25 per cent, of pulp.